Gauteng

It took a house plan to get Marc Latilla hooked on history.
 
The pony-tailed author, DJ and music professional recently launched his book, Johannesburg Then and Now. It’s a treasure for Joburg enthusiasts: a leisurely stroll down what the early gold prospectors built on a stretch of veld over 130 years ago, juxtaposed against what those buildings and sites look like now. The Then and Now books are a worldwide series, profiling cities like Melbourne, Rome, Charleston, and Cape Town.

 

If you walk down 11th Street in Parkmore, a short distance from the Sandton CBD, you may see some bright orange signage announcing 'Saks's Corner 1949'. Considering Sandton City was only built in the early 1970s there is certainly a story to be told. The following piece was written by Juliet Marais Louw in 1982 and reveals the history behind one of Sandton's oldest shops. Unfortunately the original structure has been demolished but the memory of the famous landmark lives on.

Tracey's Folly is one of Johannesburg's great historic mansions. In the article below, jounalist Lucille Davie unpacks the history of the magnificent property. The piece was originally published on the City of Joburg's website on 7 January 2010. Click here to view more of Davie's work. Main image via Yeudakn on Wikicommons.

Percival Tracey always got home in his car, but not in the usual way.

If you want to literally touch Johannesburg’s gold mining days, check in with James Findlay’s Collectable Books and Antique Maps store, recently re-located from his Saxonwold home to the basement of the Rand Club in the inner city.
 
The dignified old club is the perfect place for his collection of antique memorabilia. The grand Edwardian edifice is a bit of an antique itself: built in 1904, it was the third gentlemen’s club on the site and is rumoured to have been chosen by that now infamous capitalist and imperialist, Cecil John Rhodes.

In November 1982, Harry Oppenheimer presided over the opening of a landmark fountain in the heart of the Sandton CBD. The fountain, located on the corner of 5th Street and Rivonia Road in front of the Sandton Civic Centre, was donated to the town by Kay Barlow in memory of her husband Charles Sydney (Punch) Barlow.

 

For reasons that I have never fully understood, between about 1968 and 1972, the Wits campus underwent a period where posters of all colours and sizes proliferated, advertising everything from Rag Ball to intervarsity rugby, from Nusas teach-ins to visiting lecturers, and from Fresher’s Reception to rock and roll festivals. Every now and again the apartheid thugs that ran the country would provoke a rash of political posters, and the SRC elections were always an active time for poster artists.

I recently came across the souvenir album Barnett's Views of Johannesburg and Suburbs. I photographed a panoramic view of the early town (in three sections) and thought I would share it. The book has no date but the look of the cover, very art nouveau design with floral garland, and the street scenes and buildings leads me to believe that it was published in the late 1890s or early 1900s.

In November 2018, the Legacy Living website announced what many South Africans had been hoping for... that the Leonardo in Sandton will be Africa's tallest building on completion (it probably won't hold the record for long with the Pinnacle under construction in Nairobi). Assuming the announcement is accurate, the building will reach 234m into the sky. This will be 11m higher than the 223m Carlton Centre completed in the mid 1970s.

 

Phillip Tobias passed away in 2012 aged 87. Lucille Davie was lucky enough to sit down with him in 2009 and chat about his remarkable life. Below is an article she wrote after the in-depth interview. It was originally published on the City of Joburg's website on 19 November 2009. Click here to view more of Davie's work. The image above shows the Tobias bust at the Sterkfontein Caves.

A friend who grew up in Germiston claimed at his recent birthday bash that while you could leave Germiston, it would never leave you. His words mulled through my mind as I arrived at the Primrose Cemetery. Visiting a historic cemetery like Primrose is similar to visiting an interesting museum. Instead of viewing artifacts one sees the tombstones of people who participated in events that may have shaped one’s life in one way or another. One also starts better interpreting the tombstone symbols and appraising the epitaphs. 

 

Many readers will be aware that the Joburg Cenotaph was vandalised recently. The City of Joburg's Heritage Department pulled out all the stops to ensure that it was cleaned before the hugely important National Remembrance Sunday Service on 11 November 2018. Below are before, during and after photos via The Heritage Portal and Sticky Situations.

 

Before

Markhams Building, located on the corner of Eloff and Pritchard Streets in Johannesburg, is a landmark of the city. It is striking because it has survived. Built in 1897, it is nearly as old as the city itself.

 

Below is the third installment of a fantastic series on Cullinan based on John Lincoln's book 'Stories from a Diamond Mine'. It highlights the work of William McHardy, the General Manager of Premier Mine, and reveals details of family life in the village. Click here to view the series index.

The McHardy Family

In the article below, journalist Lucille Davie tells the story of the creation of the Fietas Subway mural. The article was first published on the City of Joburg's website on 10 November 2010. The mural is impressive but it has not been given the respect it deserves. In 2018 it is a shadow of its former self covered in graffiti and advertising.

Many readers will have heard of the discovery of the original Yeoville Water Tower blueprint earlier this year. This discovery sparked a research journey which has culminated in a wonderful series of articles by Kathy Munro. Below is the first installment which covers the early water supply history of Johannesburg and the origins of the Water Tower. The piece was first published in the Sep / Oct 2018 issue of Architecture SA. Thank you to Paul Kotze for giving us permission to publish.

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